Research, Development and Innovation ● 2020
Ceris Open Day Organizing Committee
CERIS Open Day has become an annual event that brings together PhD students, postdoctoral researchers and professors of CERIS (Civil Engineering Research and Innovation for Sustainability). The program of the events has been changing between editions, nevertheless the core activities have remained the same: (i) team building activities; (ii) oral presentations of on-going research; (iii) keynote speakers from different areas and (iv) other activities that provide helpful informations and tools to the execution of on going research by the students.
For the new members of CERIS this event is usually their first contact with different researchers from the six research groups at CERIS, related with different fields in Civil Engineering.
The first edition of this event took place on the 27th and 28th of October, 2017.
The second edition of this event took place on the 23rd and 24th of October, 2018.
The third and latest edition of CERIS Open Day was held at Foz do Arelho, on the 9th and 10th of October, 2019. The event program comprised several leisure activities, as well as work focused activities to promote and share the knowledge of the participants, which balance was considered very healthy (see activities in the results section).
From the members of CERIS, a total of ten elements were selected to form the organizing committee. These members were from different investigation areas at different research stage (PhD students, post doctoral investigators) and a CERIS board member.
For the latest edition approximately 9.000€ were allocated (financed by FCT and included in the CERIS 2019 budget), which included accommodation, meals, transportation and all the activities.
For the organizing committee, this event is a complex exercise in logistics, given the coordination of the venue, the activities (new ideas, handling of resources, time management, among others) and, in the case of CERIS, the numerous amount of participants.
The objective of this event is to promote the interaction and minimize the isolation between the center’s young researchers, by enhancing the team spirit, promote activities between the members, transfer knowledge between different areas of research, promote co-operation, and build the CERIS identity in the IST community. See the short film (https://www.dropbox.com/s/3ji40rqk4kne3yl/CERIS%20OPEN%20DAY.wmv?dl=0).
In the latest edition, there were two types of activities to consider. The leisure activities included an exploring of the outdoors near the event site, quiz, cannoeing, yoga and other team building activities. The work focused activities included three very different keynote lectures, namely: “Flying Sharks, Mosquitoes and Rock & Roll” by João Correia; “Career management skills: why we need them and where to get them?” by Pedro Resende; and a “How to finish your PhD without Prozac and other mental health issues in academia” by Ekaterina Vinnik. There was also held “Get to know CERIS” kahoot and some PhD students and post doctoral investigators, presented their research in a short and informative “5 minute pitch”.
In the three editions held so far, the results were very good. There has been an increasing number of participants, in total 78 participants and 8 professors attended this year event representing 12 nationalities, which allowed for participants of various nationalities and research topics to take part in the promotion of a positive work environment. Overall, PhD students and postdoctoral researchers were very satisfied with the event, as shown by the results of the feedback survey delivered after each edition was concluded (http://ceris.pt/pdfs/Booklet_2019_v2.pdf).
It should be noted that there has been an increasing level of satisfaction in the second and third editions, which reflected the improvements that had been suggested in the previous years regarding a stronger investment in the team-building activities.
For the Organizing Committee and several other attendees, the best outcome was the noticeable increase in interaction between the young research community of CERIS, which is a key-factor in the development of a strong scientific community at IST.
Evaluation and Monitoring
The evaluation of the event quality has been carried out through a feedback survey, after the occurrence of each of the three editions, and assessed the participants opinion on several aspects, such as: (i) relevance on the promotion of such events; (ii) overall assessment of the event; (iii) relevance of the event for current work; (iv) relevance for meeting colleagues; (v) event structure; (vi) event duration (vii) work-leisure balance (vii) event organization (viii) favorite/least favorite moment; (ix) relevance of the keynote speakers: (x) adequacy of the venue and (xi) willingness to attend next editions of the event.
In the first edition, the evaluation questionnaire was answered by 57 participants.
Overall people indicated that further editions should be organized with an even higher focus on boosting the relationships and interactions among the numerous community of PhD students and postdoctoral researchers of CERIS, thus contributing to the identity of the unit.
In the second edition, the survey was answered by 48 participants (http://ceris.pt/pdfs/Ceris_open_day_2018_Booklet.pdf). The favorite moments were the Peddy paper (34,6%) and the Quiz (19,2%). The least favorite moments were the disco night (19,2%) and the keynotes (15.4%).
In the third edition, the survey was answered by 40% of the participants (http://ceris.pt/pdfs/Booklet_2019_v2.pdf). With respect to this edition, the answers were overall even more positive. The favorite moments were Canoeing (41%) and the keynote speakers (19 %), showing that the diversity of the keynote speakers is a big plus in this type of events. The least favorite moments were the Quiz (34%) and the “5 minute pitches” (22%). This survey helps identifying the activities that the organizing committee should maintain and the ones that should be improved in the renamed “CERIS Day Out 2020”. A document “Lessons learn” was also created to help the future editions of the event.
Innovative Character and Transferability
The event was created in order to promote interaction between the very numerous young researchers at CERIS. In its core, the event is based on a set of activities focused on team building and knowledge transfer, which can undoubtedly be replicated by CERIS and also by the several other IST-based research centers.
Its innovative character stems from the fact that the nature of the event allows for a simultaneous investment in several aspects which add value to both CERIS and IST, namely communication, personal interaction, development of social skills, spreading of ideas and knowledge and strengthening of a common identity within research community.
In 2019 event for the first time the organizing committee look for some sponsors, enriching the team-building activities, with recycled bags (GIRA), notebooks and pencils (Centro de Informação Geoespacial do Exército), re-usable water bottles (EPAL) and some fruit for the attendants (Frutalvor).
This event has been disseminated in CERIS Newsletter, pag.12 (https://www.dropbox.com/s/lxh193h6aj72tls/newsletter_jan2020.pdf?dl=0) and on CERIS Web page (www.ceris.pt) for the IST community and to the public in general. CERIS Open Day can have a strong link with the IST Open Day and with other initiatives from other IST research units.
A benchmark can be done to discuss the activities that lead to a better results and some synergies can be made between IST research centers.
It is intention this year to improve the communication of CERIS through the social media, with strong link with IST communication group. Therefore the Open Day can contribute to improve and enrich the communication at IST community and to other higher education entities.